On Chinese diplomacy
Paul Byrne writes: Re. “Bishop brings the fight to Beijing” (yesterday). In referring to the claimed placement of a (short range, low altitude) missile system, Sainsbury says they are based on one of the “artificial islands constructed by China in the South China Sea”. The island in question in close to Hainan (Woody Island in the English version) and has been populated since the 1950s. It currently has around 2000 residents and has been host to defense forces since then. Why not just report the facts as others have done?
Spitballing on Senate reform
Ronny Cook writes: Re. “Dissolve away” (yesterday). There are two problems with James O’Neill’s proposal for an un-preferenced system for Senate voting. The first is that without adjusting the threshold you cannot guarantee a particular number of senators will be elected. The second problem is that those voting for minor parties will effectively be disenfranchised.
It seems to me that the best solution would be to allow preferential voting “above the line,”with as many preferences listed as the person desires; this would be equivalent to numbering the party’s representatives “below the line,” but much faster. Once those preferences are exhausted, the vote would be discarded. In the final preference rounds, the current elimination system is used until the required number of candidates remain.
This eliminates “preference whispering”, makes it easier for voters to express their preferences and ensures that minor parties still have a chance, while reducing the effect of the donkey vote. Sadly such a system would disadvantage the major parties over the minor parties compared to the systems being proposed and is therefore unlikely to be adopted.
Negative gearing fight club
Chris O’Regan writes: Re. “On negative gearing” (yesterday). Richard Davoren writes in defence of negative gearing: “Being able to reduce your income by the costs associated with one component of your business is normal practice in every business.” In fact, negative gearing laws in Australia have a crucial difference to their counterparts in other countries. To quote Callam Pickering of Business Spectator: “most countries only allow losses made on assets, such as property, to be offset against profits generated by the same asset class.” The expectation should be that the tax system assists investors who are able to turn a profit off their investment, and thus generate economic growth, ahead of speculators.
Anti-Zionism v anti-Semitism
John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Is the term ‘anti-Semitic’ defamatory? Sharri Markson’s about to find out” (yesterday). Deliberately conflating anti Zionism with anti-Semitism as Sharri Markson has done is wrong and mischievous. For her information there are large numbers of ultra Orthodox Jews who refuse to recognise Israel because of the manner of its creation. There are plenty of other links on this issue. Are they all anti-Semites too, Ms Markson?